Dangerous Obsession

by Richard Hunter






Chapter Twenty One



Sterling had only returned to work in the last couple of days and was trying to keep busy, keep his mind occupied. It seemed that, even here where Tyler had visited only the one time, everything dredged up some memory that would in turn remind him of Tyler. It was maddening that he felt so lost without someone that had been in his life for such a short time yet he had no power to control these feelings.

A knock at the door and the door opened as the deputy chief stuck his head in. “Drew, I’ve got some information that I think you’re going to want to hear.”

“Take a seat. What have you got?” Sterling hoped it was something good, some news about the bastard that had killed Tyler.

“CSU pulled over a dozen prints off the gate at your house and have been running them through local, state and FBI files trying to make a match. There were a lot of partials so they spent an extraordinary amount of time manually doing comparisons and projections in order to come up with anything. They ruled out all but three prints from the list of people you gave them that you knew to have visited and probably used that gate.”

Sterling knew that Randall was trying to give him a complete analysis, as a true professional would, but he was anxious for the bottom line. He held his tongue and allowed the deputy chief to proceed at his own pace, but was unable to stop the impatient drumming of his fingers.

“Two of the three we have not been able to identify. Actually, at first, all three came back unmatched to anything in any criminal index. But Carlson knew how important this was to you and pulled out all the stops. He started requesting print records from agencies like the State Department, Immigration and Naturalization, and even Interpol. He was swamped with records. Fortunately the new software that they acquired a year ago makes the job a lot faster by weeding out the obvious no match records and only giving him the smaller number of possibles for manual comparison. He found a 10-point match to a record from the State Department, from their passport files. It absolutely blew his mind, mine too. You’d never guess in a million years who it was.”

Sterling sat quietly, almost shaking with anticipation, mentally urging the deputy chief to drop the other shoe.


The phone buzzed, breaking in on the conversation and Shirley, sounding distressed, practically shouted over the intercom. “We have a report of shots fired over at the high school. The place is going crazy over there. They’ve called a condition one.”

Forgetting the anticipation he had felt, Sterling jumped from his chair and ran out his door and out of the building to his vehicle. He heard Randall’s footsteps close behind as he got in the cruiser and saw the deputy chief pull out of the parking lot immediately behind him. The drive to the high school was short, but frantic, and Sterling was hoping it didn’t have anything to do with Robbie.


Students were running everywhere. Two shots had been fired and then everything was quiet but it was enough that everyone panicked and acted foolishly, darting across open spaces. Robbie, crouched behind a concrete planter box, was staying put. The movement around him reminded him of those bad “B” movies on the cable channels where everyone heard a gunshot and ran out into plain sight as if to say, ‘I’m stupid, here, shoot me!’ Instead of getting behind something and staying put, or staying in a classroom and shutting and locking the door, people were running across the quad in the open or going from classroom to classroom down the halls.

The most unsettling thing was that Robbie felt the shots had been intended for him. He had heard the first shot and instantly assumed it was just a car backfiring until he heard the ping of the bullet ricocheting off the wall just a couple of feet from him. He had spun around but had not seen anyone holding a gun. Then, everyone started to panic and just as he dived behind this planter box he had heard the second shot and almost heard it whistle past his ear. Maybe it was his imagination but he wasn’t taking a chance.

It had been a full ninety seconds, he was sure, since the second shot rang out. Nothing since. He slowly peeked around the corner of the box and, seeing nothing, looked over the top. Still nothing. He heard movement behind him and jumped as someone came sliding in behind him.

“Did you see who did the shooting?” It was Jesse, taking cover beside him behind the large concrete box. “Which direction did it come from?”

“What are you doing here? Don’t you realize you put yourself more at risk coming out here, being around me?”

“Answer the question!” Jesse’s voice was forceful, commanding, and allowed no quarter for further discussion.

“I was standing right over there by the door to room one-eighty-four when I heard the shot. The bullet hit the wall near me....I think that big chip there about five feet up just a couple feet right of the door is where it struck the wall.”

“What about the second shot?”

“Dunno where it hit. I was diving for cover right here but it sure sounded like it went past my ear. But the shot sounded from that direction,” Robbie pointed across the box, “so somewhere over there I guess. But he hasn’t taken anymore shots. Maybe he got scared and left.” Robbie made a move as if to get out from behind the box.

Jesse grabbed Robbie’s arm and pulled him down. “Don’t be crazy! He may just be waiting for you to reveal yourself. So far you’ve been lucky that he’s a pretty lousy shot.” Jesse, however, looked over the box and around. “But truth is, this isn’t much cover if he was on a roof. He could be circling around behind us right now.”

As though the dire prediction was coming to life on cue, they heard a scraping that sounded like footsteps on the gravelly roof of the building behind them. Jesse spun quickly, his eyes sweeping the tops of the buildings around them and, as Robbie looked on in total shock, he pulled a small handgun from a holster fastened to his ankle under the loose slacks he was wearing. “Keep your eyes open and moving. We can’t let him catch us by surprise.”

“Where did you get the gun? You can’t bring a gun into school.” Right now, however, Robbie was extremely glad that Jesse had that gun - and that he was here with him. His heart was beating at breakneck speed and, in keeping with Jesse’s instructions, he was looking around everywhere, especially places that someone might have a clear shot at them.

Just as he saw a figure pop up from behind the retaining wall on top of the building behind them, and before he could even recognize anything about that person other than the fact that he was pointing a gun at them, Jesse aimed and fired at the man. The man quickly ducked down and the sound of running feet across the grit of the roof was clearly heard.

“Come on. He’s taking off. You need to be in a safer place if he decides to come back!”

They ran across the open sided hallway and Jesse shoved Robbie into a janitors closet where there were no windows or other entrances, then slammed the door shut. “Stay there until either I or some police officer tells you to come out. I can hear sirens so the whole police department is probably on it’s way here.


It was only ten minutes later that Drew knocked at the closet door and told Robbie to come out. He escorted the shaken boy to the area where a command post had been set up and where more than twenty officers were assembled, receiving instructions for the grid search pattern. Another officer was on a radio issuing instructions to patrol units to cordon off the area and attempt to keep the shooter boxed in.

Jesse was standing talking to the deputy chief and Robbie looked at Drew. “Jesse saved my life. He’s gotta be the bravest and most level headed kid I’ve ever met.”

Drew smiled as they walked up and then put a hand on Robbie’s shoulder. “Robbie, I’d like to introduce you to Officer Jesse Masters of the Carlsbad Police Department in San Diego County.”

Jesse looked at Robbie, all trace of his customary shy expression gone. Robbie looked at his friend, dumbfounded, and stammered. “I...I thought you...looked older than....seventeen.” Everyone smiled and chuckled. “Thanks for saving...my life.”

With a dismissive wave, Jesse reached out and shook hands with Robbie. “I’m just happy I was nearby and found you when I did. Drew would never have forgiven me if I’d have let you get killed.”

“But why is a San Diego cop up here pretending to be a high school student?”

Sterling jumped in. “I wanted someone that could blend in as a student and be around you during the day without you feeling you were being watched. Jesse was available and he looked the part of the surfer teen.” Sterling let his eyes wander over the lanky frame of the young cop. “He may be twenty-two but he sure looks like a teenager.” Privately, Sterling thought to himself ‘but thank God he’s not.’

Coach Brown came walking up to them, his face showing concern for the safety of two of his best swimmers. “Is everyone alright? I heard the shots but I was afraid to come out of the gym until things settled down.”

Deputy Chief Randall looked at the Coach and at Sterling and moved behind the coach, grabbing his wrists and wrenching both arms behind his back. “Brian Brown, you’re under arrest for the murders of Christopher Reynolds and Tyler Williams.”

Sterling, Jesse and Robbie stood looking at the deputy chief as if he had gone insane, but were too shocked to move or to speak.

“That’s what I started to tell you, Drew. Brown’s were the only identifiable prints on your gate that had no legitimate reason to be there. We were able to match the prints against passport files from the State Department when he got his passport to go to the Olympic Games five years ago. The prints were a perfect match.”